Tete outclasses Villanueva, wins interim WBO bantamweight title

Ryan Songalia
Tete outclasses Villanueva, wins interim WBO bantamweight title
Filipino boxer Arthur Villanueva suffers his second career defeat, losing a decision to former champion Zolani Tete in England

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Arthur Villanueva sustained the second defeat of his pro career, losing a 12-round unanimous decision to Zolani Tete on Saturday, April 22 (Sunday Manila time) at Leicester Arena in Leicester, England.

Two judges scored the fight 119-108 and the third had it 120-107, all for Tete (25-3, 20 KOs), a former IBF junior bantamweight titleholder from South Africa who is now signed by British promoter Frank Warren. Villanueva (30-2, 16 KOs) of Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines had risen to popularity in his home country due to his exposure on ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride cards on ABS-CBN.

The fight, originally scheduled to be an elimination bout to determine the mandatory challenger for the WBO bantamweight title, was elevated to an interim title fight after Marlon Tapales was stripped of the championship for missing weight prior to his defense against Shohei Omori in Japan. 

Villanueva was befuddled from the opening round, and had to deal with a cut from an accidental headbutt early on. Tete utilized his superior speed and counterpunching ability to land straight lefts to the head and body on Villanueva, who became increasingly reticent to press the action. (READ: For Arthur Villanueva, boxing is a chess match)

One of those left hands dropped Villanueva in the eleventh round, but Tete seemed content to play it safe and coast to a decision.

“Magaling talaga si Tete,” Villanueva said in a Facebook comment afterwards. “I did my very best pero I can’t hit him.”

Villanueva’s only previous defeat came in 2015, when he lost a headbutt-shortened technical decision to McJoe Arroyo for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title

The fight was broadcast in the United Kingdom by BoxNation and will be shown in the Philippines on Sunday, April 23 at 6:30 pm on ABS-CBN Sports and Action. – Rappler.com

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